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Janni Lee Simner's first novel for young adults is a dark fairy-tale twist on apocalyptic fiction--as familiar as a nightmare, yet altogether unique.
- ISBN-13: 9780375845635
- ISBN-10: 0375845631
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: January 2009
- Page Count: 247
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 57.
- Review Date: 2008-11-17
- Reviewer: Staff
It has been 20 years since the war between faeries and humans destroyed everything. Liza, a teenager living in what was once the Midwest, has always been taught that magic kills. When Liza’s mother gives birth to a faerie baby with “hair clear as glass,” her father abandons the infant on a hillside to die; Liza’s mother then runs away, and Liza begins to have magical visions of her own. Petrified that her powers might cause death, Liza flees into the woods with her friend Matthew, only to be attacked by deadly trees and rescued by a woman with magic. The plot quickens as Liza realizes that the woman is connected to her mother’s past, knowledge that propels Liza into a dangerous journey into the land of Faerie, in search of her mother. Debut novelist Simner’s style is poetic (“A land of steel and glass, of towers and sharp angles. A sky the color of dried blood”), but she only vaguely describes Liza’s world. It’s hard to understand how, for example, a faerie differs from humans with magical powers, or what triggered the cataclysmic faerie war. Despite the murkiness, the plotting is strong, and readers will want to stay with Liza until her questions are resolved. Ages 12–16. (Jan.)
At war with a magical enemy
It wasn't terrorist attacks but a war between humans and faeries that left the Earth destroyed 20 years ago. In the post-apocalyptic Bones of Faerie, Janni Lee Simner's first young-adult novel, 15-year-old Liza has been taught by her xenophobic father that magic leads to death. When her baby sister is born with pale, almost translucent hair, a sure faerie sign, and left to die; her mother disappears; and she begins to see disturbing visions of the War and her mother, Liza must escape before her father discovers her own treacherous secret.
The teen flees her isolated village, despite warnings that trees in the adjoining forest start to kill at night. She is not alone long before she is joined by Matthew, another teenaged villager who has been hiding his shape-shifting abilities. Soon, the two are indeed attacked by sinister trees. Rescued by a wandering faerie and taken to a fey village, Liza must reconcile her trust of the faeries and her own growing magic with her teachings about the War.
Riddled by more visions and a puzzling connection between her mother and her faerie caretakers, Liza must find her runaway mother. Matthew joins her again, as does Allie, a faerie healer. The three young people head for St. Louis, now known as Faerie, where the famous Gateway Arch has become a portal to a world of magic. They use their special gifts of sight, touch and smell to help one another and ward off evil.
Amid the recent deluge of post-apocalyptic novels, Simner offers a unique spin, with her poetic, atmospheric prose brilliantly capturing the tug between human and faerie and the blending of the two. Because Liza narrates the story, readers, pulled into the teen's search for her mother and questions about the War, slowly learn the answers along with her. They not only relish her gains in magic, but in her self-confidence, trust and love. Readers can only hope that lingering questions in the book will be answered with a sequel and more glimpses into Liza's faerie powers.
Angela Leeper recently visited the Arch and saw no signs of faerie infiltration.